Search this site
Other stuff

All banner artwork by Brady Johnson, college student and (semi-) starving artist.

My latest books:


        Available now

       Available Now

Available now 

My book Machines are the easy part; people are the hard part is now available as a free download at Lulu.

 The Blue Skunk Page on Facebook


EdTech Update




« Another image generator and a clever parody | Main | Columbine and Community »

PLN Bill of Rights and Responsibilities

"The makers of the Constitution conferred the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by all civilized men—the right to be let alone." - JUSTICE LOUIS D. BRANDEIS

This week seems to have been the perfect storm of work. Hence the blog neglect. In fact neglect of my "Personal Learning Network" has been pretty much complete. Between meetings and budgets at work, conference travel/presentations and article deadlines, I've been swamped.

I sense that others may be feeling overwhelmed as well. Joyce Valenza worries about not keeping up despite being "hyper-connected." Darren Draper in a column on Twitter says:

I guess my biggest complaint/worry about Twi---r (and every other piece of abused technology out there) is that in our modern and extremely complex world, it’s become far too easy to lose sight of what’s really important in life.


In fact, what I *am* saying is that ALL of these social media tools can be an incredible time suck, and if we don't keep them in check, there's a good chance we'll miss out on many things in life that are simply better than whatever we might get from Twitter (and Facebook, and even bacon).

I guess it is cold comfort to know I am not alone in feeling that one's PLN can feel like a burden as much as a booster at times. I've always appreciated Jeff Utecht's Stages of PLN Adoption. But I wonder how well we "do" Stage 4: Perspective that leads to:

Stage 5 Balance: Try and find that balance between learning and living. Understanding that you can not know it all, and begin to understand that you can rely on your network to learn and store knowledge for you. A sense of calm begins as you understand that you can learn when you need to learn and you do not need to know it all right now.

Are we in need of a Bill of Rights for PLN participants to help relieve some guilt and stress for the occasional need for a break or severe deceleration? Flesh out Jeff's Stage 5 a little. Here's a first stab at it...

Personal Network Member Bill of Rights and Responsibilities

  1. I have the right not to be social 24/7 - either online or in person.
  2. I have the right to time for reflection and responsibility for doing so.
  3. I have the right to use only the tools that suit my learning style.
  4. I have the right to stop using a tool when it is no longer useful.
  5. I have the right to not be on the cutting edge all the time or feel I need to always know all there is to know.
  6. I have the right to choose those with whom I learn in my personal learning network and responsibility to learn from those with whom I don't always agree.
  7. I have the right and responsibility to disagree and the responsibility to do it professionally.
  8. I have the responsibility to become familiar with a tool before sharing it with others.
  9. I have the responsibility to share my knowledge with others in my network.
  10. I have the right and responsibility to not let online activities keep me from my friends, my family, my workplace, or my community.

That's it. No more beating myself up for punching that "Mark All as Read" button!

Add your rights and responsibilities of PLN members...

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (8)

...been there, done that with my New Gator feeds and podcast subscriptions. It doesn't take long for your personal and professional curiosities to feel overbearing.

April 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNathan

Not everything can be expressed as a 'Bill of Rights' -- in fact, pretty much nothing should be, and especially not things having to do with people who are not Americans.

April 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStephen Downes

Great post, as usual. I think some of us need to take responsibility not to shove some of these tools down each others throats while we're at it. I like knowing what's out there, but like to experiment in my own time/style.


April 24, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterteacherninja

Recently got back from a little trip to the west coast and have found the google reader overflowing. I've sifted out the gold to read. You made the gold pile.

April 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie A. Roy

Which right does that favorite little button called "marking all as read" fall under. Going to have to do it tonight since it is 1000+. (We've been dealing with a major forest fire in Myrtle Beach since Wed afternoon--did you catch us in the news??) I even had to evacuate my apartment Thursday evening, though the word is the structure is still untouched and standing, despite being surrounded. So suffice it say Ive had little time to read a reader or stay connected. This was really timely for me. Oh, I also had to beg off an article contribution due to "life" happening this week. So now I don't feel quite so guilty.

PS- notice i read my LMS folder before marking read all else. Its the best folder in the whole reader all the time. : P

Oh how timely is this post! I have been feeling increasingly resentful of the time I've been investing online. During the March school break we have, I did not blog, read my feeds, check in to Twitter or surf. I thought that one week would be enough but that one week extended into a month. In fact this is the first time since the end of March that I've read anything online beyond my email. I must say that I was feeling extremely guilty for disconnecting myself until I read this post and found that others are feeling the same. I am coming to the realization that I can't know it all and can't do it all and am giving myself permission to be flexible and re-wire as needed, depending upon my work load, personal and family responsibilities Your PLN Bill of Rights took away most of my guilt. Thanks for sharing this!

April 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSharon S.

Thank you for this post. As a media specialist for elementary students I have followed this philosophy to maintain my sanity and not feel overwhelmed. It is reaffirming to hear this from so many people. Somewhere along the lines in this technological gadget explosion we lost sight of the benefits of down time--the time to rest, rejuventate and evaluate.

April 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRati Singhal

Hi Nathan,

I think we all strive for balance, but achieving it is easier said than done. Luckily, I am ruthless about deleting feeds now and then!

All the best,


Hi Stephen,

If forgot that Canadians got no rights. Sorry.

This was expressed as a Bill of Rights as a literacy device, not a political doctrine. You ought not take anything I say so seriously!

All the best,


Hi Ninja,

I am always shocked at how little we respect teachers as being people who are capable of directing their own learning in their own style. Sure, we all need a nudge now and then, but few of us need to be prescribed to about what we need to know and when.

All the best,


Thanks, Charlie. You sure this isn't Fools Gold?


Hi Cathy,

I give you dispensation from reading your feeds. Life does have a way of mucking up one's plans.

Hope you are safe from the fire and experienced no losses!


Hi Rati,

I would agree and that experience without reflection is not worth much!


Hi Sharon,

A little perspective is a good thing now and then. I think we all ought to step back and reflect on what has value and what does not. And what the signal to noise ratio (amount of good stuff gained weighed against the time spent) is for all our online tasks.

Thanks for the comment and all the best,


April 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>